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Startups at Stevens

Cardinals Make Net Gain in Volleyball

  • Stevens High School volleyball team members do dynamic stretches prior to practice at Monadnock Park in Claremont on Wednesday. This year is the first that Stevens High has fielded a volleyball team. From left: Angel Woods, 14, Gabrielle Keyser, 17, Ella Calve, 16, Rachel Dansereau, 15, and Gillian Cahill, 16. Valley News photographs - Elijah Nouvelage

    Stevens High School volleyball team members do dynamic stretches prior to practice at Monadnock Park in Claremont on Wednesday. This year is the first that Stevens High has fielded a volleyball team. From left: Angel Woods, 14, Gabrielle Keyser, 17, Ella Calve, 16, Rachel Dansereau, 15, and Gillian Cahill, 16. Valley News photographs - Elijah Nouvelage Purchase photo reprints »

  • Stevens' Rachel Dansereau participates in a setting exercise during  practice at Monadnock Park in Claremont. Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage

    Stevens' Rachel Dansereau participates in a setting exercise during practice at Monadnock Park in Claremont. Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage Purchase photo reprints »

  • Stevens High School volleyball team members do dynamic stretches prior to practice at Monadnock Park in Claremont on Wednesday. This year is the first that Stevens High has fielded a volleyball team. From left: Angel Woods, 14, Gabrielle Keyser, 17, Ella Calve, 16, Rachel Dansereau, 15, and Gillian Cahill, 16. Valley News photographs - Elijah Nouvelage
  • Stevens' Rachel Dansereau participates in a setting exercise during  practice at Monadnock Park in Claremont. Valley News - Elijah Nouvelage

Claremont — Aaron House could probably make a good living panhandling in Manhattan.

The Stevens athletic director has added one more varsity sport — girls volleyball — to the fall program list by essentially sticking out his tin cup to the right people.

The idea of starting a girls volleyball program started more than a year ago, when some 20 girls indicated to House of their interest in the sport.

House supported their desire and told them to “get to work.” And they did, running the concession stand during basketball games, which raised $1,500.

But more funding was needed — a lot more — especially to purchase an expensive netting system. For that, House needed $5,600. So, House turned to his new partner in Stevens athletics: Valley Regional Hospital.

Valley Regional had already agreed to share expenses with Stevens for an athletic trainer. After discussing the volleyball situation with hospital CEO Peter Wright, House got a commitment of three payments to cover the entire $5,600. The holes have already been drilled into the Carr Gym floor, and the netting is in place, with the name Valley Regional Hospital emblazoned on the posts.

Still, there was more.

You can’t have a volleyball match without a scoreboard, and the scoreboards at Carr Gym were not equipped to keep volleyball scores. They soon will be.

“When I was at the athletic directors meeting in San Antonio, there was a huge vendor show and one of the women there was displaying the software for volleyball scoring. “I told her what I needed and I also told her I didn’t have any money to buy it,” House said. “So she’s giving it to us for free.”

The only thing left to do after that was hire a coach. It just so happened that on the faculty is Shawn Austic, who coached the Fall Mountain junior varsity the last two years. Austic happily agreed to become the first-ever Stevens varsity girls volleyball coach.

“I’m very excited,” said Austic. “We started getting together once a week in the spring and the girls have stuck it out since. The kids have been very receptive and we’re having a great time.”

When the season begins, the varsity team will have a 17-match schedule in New Hampshire Division III. The will not be a jayvee team in the first year.

“I want it made clear that we know that there may be some rough spots right off the bat,” Austic said.

The idea that there may not be many wins is not of great concern to the players.

“This is going to be fun,” junior Kayla Putnam said. “Just to get better and better is our goal. This will be a learning experience. But to be honest about it, the girls we have here will support each other no matter how we do.”

For Rachel Dansereau and Erin Truesdell, both juniors, volleyball represents something different. Neither of them would have participated in a fall sport if it were not for volleyball.

“I know it’s going to be tough,” said Dansereau, who had never played the sport before. “But now I have something to do in the fall. Also, we’re getting to know each other real well. So this is wonderful.”

Truesdell knew most of the other fall sports were established and volleyball has given her a new avenue to release her energy.

“We know winning is not going to be the big goal for us this year,” she said. “We’re just going to focus on improving.”

House said he’s through adding sports for this year, but he’s already planning for next year.

“We hope to add cross country,” he said. “We tried it at the middle school last year and it was a big hit.”